TORONTO – CBC personality Don Cherry used his “Coach’s Corner” segment on Saturday’s “Hockey Night in Canada” to criticize Washington Capitals sniper Alex Ovechkin for what he felt was an excessive celebration of his 50th goal earlier this week.
Ovechkin reached the plateau in a 5-2 victory over Tampa Bay on Thursday night. He followed through with a plan to put his stick on the ice and pretend to warm his hands over it.
Cherry pointed out that even Ovechkin’s own teammate Mike Green skated away instead of joining him in the celebration. He also had a direct message for the Russian star.
“You should be a role model, you don’t need to do it like this, you’re above stuff like that,” Cherry said. “You’re the best hockey player playing today. Have a little class and do it right.”
Cherry also felt it was disrespectful to the Lightning.
“How would you like to be playing for Tampa? They’ve gone through a nightmare season, it’s in their building, they’re being beat 5-1 and you score on a rookie goalie,” he said. “I mean how do you think (Tampa goalie Mike) McKenna feels about this?”
Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said after the game that he planned to speak to Ovechkin about the orchestrated celebration.
“You think the people from Tampa came to see (Ovechkin) act like that?” Cherry added. “That is not class and he knows it, Boudreau knows it.”
Green knew what to expect when Ovechkin reached the milestone, but he preferred to admire it from a distance.
“He told me he was going to do it,” Green said after the game. “He wanted me to join in, but there was no way I’d join in on that. I just kind of stood back and let him do what he does.”
Cherry has been critical of Ovechkin’s goal celebrations throughout the season.
“You don’t do that,” Cherry said. “Everybody said that he’s taunting (the Lightning). The guy’s not a mean guy, he’s not taunting them, he didn’t mean to taunt them. But think how bad the rookie feels.
“You can’t do stuff like that and not make people feel bad. But he’s not a mean guy, he’s just having a good time. But you know what, even your own coach talked to you about the whole thing.”
Ovechkin had 52 goals as a rookie in 2005-06, 46 in 2006-07 and 65 last season.